I loved Spider-Man comics growing up. I still do, but I’m not quite devoted enough to keep up with the comics on a regular basis. Hence, I love the opportunity to check in on my favorite superhero when my library gets the latest collect editions of The Amazing Spider-Man.
Recently, I picked up three new collections featuring Nick Spencer as the head Spidey writer and featuring cover blurbs about how great his work was on Marvel’s flagship title. And after reading “Hunted,” I could see what the positive buzz was about.
Then there came the next two collections. Continue reading
There’s something intimate about getting to hear an author read their work. In the case of Laura Lippman’s collection of essays My Life as a Villainess, it feels just a bit more intimate — almost as if you’ve been invited to coffee with Lippman and are getting the chance to hear bits and pieces of her story.
Fifteen essays covering a wide range of topics from our obsession with celebrities to her early days as a newspaper reporter in Waco to her thoughts on her unconventional approach to motherhood. (One particular sentence that haunted me is about seeing your child go through the same types of things you once faced and being powerless to stop them from hurting someone you love so much). As with her fictional writing, Lippman hits home time and again with observations and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Lippman turns the searchlight on herself time and again, detailing not only successes but also shortcomings in her life. At times as I listened to this audiobook, I felt myself thinking, “You know I could be friends with Laura Lippman.” That is, of course, assuming we lived anywhere near each other and I didn’t try to man-splain The Wire to her (I must apologize because as of this stage in my life I haven’t found the time to watch all of The Wire yet. It’s not for lack of desire, it’s just that I’m a slacker when it comes to catching up on my quality tv shows).
Of course, as with all sets of non-fiction essays, there are times I found myself nodding in agreement with what Lippman was saying and times when I felt myself disagreeing and wanting to discuss our differences with her (again, without mansplaining. At least I hope I wouldn’t.). Reading these essays, we get to see inside the world and mind of one of the best writers working today. If you’re a Lippman fan, this is a must read.
The Field Where I Died
Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day. Well, maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.
“The Field Where I Died” feels like it’s trying to do a lot of things. It feels a bit like an Emmy bait episode, with a showcase role for David Duchovny as Mulder but also for guest actress Kristen Cloke. Seeing the multiple personalities that flow so quickly and effortlessly out of Melissa via Cloke also seems to scream “award nomination please” in flashing neon letters.
Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, the episode also feels like it wants to make all of us who didn’t watch Space: Above and Beyond that the show had really great actors and we just missed it.
The episode also feels like it’s taking things up a notch in terms of the direction. The pre-credit sequence of Mulder in the field is a gorgeous shot, feeling almost cinematic. Continue reading
Driven to raise her math grade from a B+ to an A, Ellie begs her mother, Laurel, to hire a tutor for her. The tutor does her job, but Ellie begins to get an odd vibe off her and decides to end the lessons. A few weeks before her exams, Ellie mysteriously vanishes.
A decade later, Laurel is beginning to piece her life back together. Divorced, she’s met a new suitor who seems like the perfect guy. He has two daughters and one of them, Poppy, is the spitting image of Ellie. Is Laurel seeing a ghost or is there something more sinister going on here?
All of that sounds pretty exciting, right?
This is why I’m a bit sad to report that Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone isn’t nearly as exciting or thrilling as a whole as the individual components make it sound like it should or could be. Part of the issue is that once Jewell puts all the pieces into play, there aren’t any huge shocks or revelations to come. I’d figured out a large part of what was going on long before the book begins to pull back the curtain on where Ellie went, who Poppy really is, and just how the math tutor ties into all of it. I kept waiting for something darker or more sinister to come of the story and nothing really did. Maybe I’m too conditioned by other suspense thrillers with a dark streak to really fully enjoy this one. But I did find myself reading more to see if my suspicions were correct than because I was fully invested in the story unfolding.
That’s not to say this is necessarily a bad book. It’s just one that disappointed me a great deal, especially after hearing positive reviews from other readers who share my tastes.
Scully: Where are you going?
Mulder: To find someone who I know who plotted to deceive, inveigle and obfuscate.
The final episode of The X-Files to air on a Friday night, “Teliko” isn’t one that necessarily connected well with me then or now. It’s not a terrible episode, per se. It’s just one that feels a bit by the numbers and ends up falling flat. Continue reading
How you feel about Stephen Wyatt’s adaptation of his own script for “Paradise Towers” probably depends on how you feel about the televised story. If you liked the broadcast version, you’ll probably enjoy it. If you weren’t a fan, there isn’t much here to really add to what we saw on television screens.
Back before season 24 aired, I met Sylvester McCoy at my local PBS station’s hosting of the Whomobile (a semi packed with props, set pieces, and an opportunity to sit in Bessie). McCoy regaled the audience with stories about his first season, making it sound far better than season 24 turned out to be.
“Paradise Towers” isn’t necessarily a terrible story. It’s one that has some ambition to it, but given the limited budget of the time and that it’s a studio-bound story that features a lot of running up and down corridors, it still ended up disappointing me at the time. The novel is extremely faithful to what we saw on screen, though Wyatt does try to make certain characters a bit more credible on the printed page. Pex, for example, seems to look the part a bit more in the descriptions we’re given in the book than the actor did in the television version. It also helps the Chief Caretaker be a bit more menacing when I’m not constantly taken out of the story by Richard Biers playing the role (though I will admit the audiobook isn’t done any favors by Bonnie Langford doing a fairly good impression of what Biers does on-screen).
All-in-all, this is a solid enough adaptation that ranks in the middle of the range. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great as other Target books featuring the seventh Doctor would be.
Nearing her 23rd birthday in a small village, the Addie LaRue of 1714 wants nothing to do with her family’s plans to marry her to a widowed man nearly twice her age. Desperate to escape, Addie calls upon the gods, making a Faustian deal with a devil named Luc.
Addie won’t age. But she also won’t make an impact on the world nor will anyone she interacts with remember who she is. The deal runs out when grows weary and willingly surrenders her soul to Luc. But Addie didn’t count on the immediate heartbreak of her family instantly forgetting her, leaving her without a home and forced to find loopholes to make minor impressions upon the world for the next three hundred years.
Until one day, she wanders into a bookstore and meets Henry. And while stealing a book (Addie gets by stealing a lot of what she needs since people don’t recall her once she’s out of sight), Henry follows her and confronts her, saying the three words she’s been dying to hear for so long — “I remember you.” Continue reading
Scully: The angle of movement and deeper indentation on the right side of the mark suggest a left-handed individual. I’ve collected soil specimens and although numerous shoe impressions remain from the sandlot game, I think a couple of stone casts would prove invaluable to the investigation. Meanwhile, I’ve quit the FBI and have become a spokesperson for the ab-roller.
Mulder: Smell that. It’s perfume. God this brings back a lot of memories of my sister… All-day pickup games out on the vineyard. Ride your bikes down to the beach, eat bologna sandwiches. Only place you had to be on time was home for dinner. Never had to lock your doors. No modems, no faxes, no cell phones.
Scully: Mulder, if you had to do without a cell phone for two minutes, you’d lapse into catatonic schizophrenia.
“Home” is one of the more infamous hours not only of The X-Files, but all of television. I was fortunate enough to record it and archive it to my collection of off-air VHS tapes when it first aired. This would turn out to be a good thing since the episode was then “banned” by Fox from airing for three years (though it would be included as part of the first wave of VHS tapes for season four). I recall the scrambling done on fan forums to obtain a copy of this episode when Fox refused to air it again. Continue reading
While reading through the Marvel Masterworks reprints of The Amazing Spider-Man, I encountered the first appearance of a lesser-known Spidey foe, the Gibbon. The Gibbon wasn’t exactly what you’d call even a B-list or C-list level of villain for Spider-Man. Beyond the hook of the Gibbon wanting to be an ally to Spider-Man (mirroring a bit Spidey’s attempts to join the Fantastic Four back in the day), I’d argue there wasn’t much memorable about the character.
So, imagine my surprise when reading this story arc, “Hunted,” when I found myself getting a lump in my throat when the Gibbon is killed off in the issue focusing on him. Somehow Nick Spencer took what was a minor villain in the Spidey-verse and not only made me connect with and care about him, but he actually made me get a bit weepy when he died.
That alone has to be worth an extra star when it comes to rating this arc in the current run of The Amazing Spider-Man. Continue reading
The fiercest enemy is the man who has nothing left to lose.
After the season finales for seasons one and two, “Talitha Cumi” and “Herrenvolk” seem almost tame by comparison. After shutting down the X-Files and then possibly killing Mulder to end the previous two seasons, the cliffhanger of the alien bounty hunter arriving to eliminate Jeremiah Smith seems positively tame by comparison. But while the stakes may seem a bit lower for the cliffhanger, at least you had an idea of where things might go immediately upon the series’ return the next fall.
“Talitha Cumi” feels like the first time the series really begins to try and bring the mythology into some type of focus. For the past three seasons, we’ve had hints of colonization, the aline oil, and just how the Mulder family ties into all of this. This two-parter provides a few more breadcrumbs to follow but Jeremiah Smith doesn’t necessarily promise the same level fo answers that the Thinker did in “Anasazi.” (And which the series had to step back from because if you give Mulder (and us) all the answers in the season premiere, there’s little incentive to come back for the full season). Continue reading